Days Gone By: The many faces of Ipswich’s bustling Chantry estate
PUBLISHED: 10:40 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 21:20 09 August 2017
The Chantry housing estate in Ipswich was mostly built in the 1950s and 60s to house the town’s expanding population, writes David Kindred.
Thousands grew up and went to school there.
Much of the estate was built as council housing, but is now a mixture of private and council property, including residential homes and flats.
Many of the roads are named after birds and flowers.
At the heart of the site is the shops on Hawthorn Drive with the Kingfisher public house next door, which was purpose built and opened in 1958 to serve the new and expanding development.
Chantry Park is the largest of Ipswich’s parks and extends over 124 acres. It was saved from development by Sir Arthur Churchman, Lord Woodbridge, of the Churchman’s tobacco dynasty.
The park was officially opened to the public on May 17, 1928, by Princess Mary.
In this week’s Days Gone By, I feature many faces who have lived and grown up on the Chantry estate.
Joy Matthews (nee Randall), from Wales, sent in her memories from the Second World War period of Footman’s Ipswich store which was featured recently.
She said: “What memories the photographs of Footman’s store brought back. I still have stuff my parents bought from there, it just was the only store to go to.
“The other day I was talking to a friend about Footman’s during the Second World War. Every Christmas time there were two treats for kids.
“The marionette show upstairs and the dolls house on show in the food hall.
“I loved that dolls house, it was in a glass case and had everything in miniature. There was electric light and running water.
“Something some of us didn’t have in our full size houses.
“What happened to that dolls house? It started a life long interest in miniatures for me and now, at the age of 80, I have 27 dolls houses, but not one of them has running water. Electric light – easy peasy.
“Footman’s is long gone, now the site of Debenhams. Footman’s wasn’t just a store it was an institution and a way of life.
“Although I have lived in Wales for 60 years I still remember the weekly visits to Ipswich when I was a child.”
John Sparks sent in his memories of St Nicholas Street, St Peters Street and Ipswich’s coffee bars which featured recently in a letter from reader Rod Cross.
He said: “I frequented all of Ipswich’s coffee bars in the early 60s, except for the 2 Ages in Norwich Road, which was the territory of the “rival gang” of the Chantry estate “mob” of which I was member and our “headquarters” was the Porthole in St. Helen’s Street and stood on the corner of the little lane that ran down behind the shops opposite the Regent.
“I did go in the Gondolier, always downstairs into the murky and smokey depths where Edith Piaf was usually playing on the juke-box, very trendy then.
“The other biding memory of the Gondolier underworld was a folk singer/hippy traveller who used to appear now and then with his dog, and part of his ‘act’ was to swallow a sword.
“We would all put money into his cap or buy him a coffee or food.
“You featured an excellent Rod Cross letter on St. Nicholas and Peters Street streets.
“He mentions Yapp’s bakers in St Peter’s Street, there was also Eric Larter’s bakers at 2 St Nicholas Street.
“Mr Cross mentioned the Hippodrome Theatre which became the Savoy dance hall for a number of years.
“There was a large record player/amplifier in a sort of coffee bar alcove and you could dance on the main floor or upstairs on the balcony – both floors being fitted out with a very nice timbered floor.
“I recall seeing a white suited and blond Shane Fenton (Alvin Stardust) with his band the Fentones playing there.”
Write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or send an e-mail.